CQC wrong not to publish 2015 Whorlton Hall report, says review

Birds-eye view of an old building
Whorlton Hall

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) was wrong not to publish the 2015 inspection report of Whorlton Hall, four years before a BBC Panorama investigation, which showed patients with learning disabilities being abused, a review has said.

The CQC commissioned David Noble QSO to undertake an independent review to focus in particular on concerns raised by Barry Stanley-Wilkinson, who later resigned from the CQC, about the draft report prepared in 2015, and how they were addressed through the watchdog’s internal processes.

The review found that the decision not to publish the report of the 2015 inspection of Whorlton Hall prior to the 2016 re-inspection or following the CQC’s internal investigation was wrong.

The report made several recommendations, including that the CQC ensures secure and effective arrangements are in force for the collection and storage of physical notes and electronic records made in the course of gathering evidence at inspections.

These arrangements need to operate both during and at the end of an individual’s employment with the CQC, and must ensure that data protection requirements are fully met.

Other recommendations included improvements be made to the information provided to inspectors about services, and the re-examination of the quality assurance processes it has designed and applied to inspections and report-writing to ensure that they are delivering cost-effective, valuable ‘quality assurance’ at the right points in the system.

The review also recommended the watchdog urgently consider the potential benefit in producing legal advice about non-publication of inspection reports, and that the CQC should review its current approach for examining complaints to ensure that lessons have been learned from the shortcomings of the Whorlton Hall complaint handling in 2015.

‘David Noble’s review concludes that the decision not to publish the report of the 2015 inspection was the wrong one, which we fully accept,’ said Ian Trenholm, chief executive of the CQC. ‘The review also concludes that although the 2015 inspection did identify concerns about the operation of the hospital at Whorlton Hall, at that time, there was no evidence that patients were being abused.’

‘David Noble has made a number of recommendations to CQC’s Board to improve CQC’s processes and procedures,’ Trenholm added. ‘We welcome Mr Noble’s findings and all his recommendations have been accepted in full by the CQC Board today.’

‘Some relate to work which is already underway, however there is still much to be done. We will be publishing an action plan setting out how we are addressing each recommendation at a future public board meeting,’ he continued.